A Letter from a USP Student


Dear Mom & Dad,

I'm coming home tomorrow, or beginning the journey at least. Right now we're debriefing and preparing for re-entry, and it's been a tough day. If anything, debriefing is making me more worried about going home, helping me realize how hard it may be to readjust. So I figured I'd write this letter and get some of my feelings on paper to help me and to help you.

I've learned a lot this semester and changed a lot, though some of what I've learned or how I've changed isn't clear to me yet. It's going to take time for me to process everything. Some things I'll want to talk about right away, and other things may take a while to sink in and it will be a while before I can communicate them. Ugandan and American cultures value very different things, so it might be hard for me to figure out which values to cling to and how to live them out. There are times you might not understand or agree with me. I love you and hope you can be patient.

I'm afraid of a lot of things right now. I'm afraid home won't feel like home anymore after building a home in Africa. But my home in Africa is gone too, so I'm afraid of feeling homeless. I'm afraid of having two families on separate continents who may never be able to meet and understand each other-I want to share Mama Joyce with you but there are so many things that seem impossible to explain. There are so many beautiful things that have to be experienced and can't be told, that words can't do justice to, that telling stories about would be like betraying the experience and the people and places involved. Most of all I think I'm afraid of being alone, of losing my African community because I'm leaving it and of losing my American community because I left it and now can no longer fit into it.

So I'm asking you to love me and be patient with me through this. Eventually I'll settle again and rebuild a home and community that integrates my Ugandan and American selves. Right now I feel divided, and I'm working to bring the pieces together, to work through the puzzle to make each small, individual piece a part of the greater whole. When the puzzle is finished, I hope you'll be able to be proud of your own contribution to it and accepting of all the contributions made by so many others.

Thank you for sharing me with Africa and for taking me back again with all of the scuffs and bruises, the questions, the new ideas and improvements this semester has given me.

Love-your daughter